President Obama’s visit to India led to the announcement of the signing of a number of deals worth about $175-m on clean energy between Indian and US Companies, majority of them in the solar space.
During the same visit earlier that month, the US-India CEO Forum recommended the setting up of a $1 billion cleantech venture capital fund. The US-India CEO Forum had identified opportunities in synergizing R&D (research and development) capabilities and funding for clean energy and in enhancing energy efficiency.
This was followed by the announcement from US OPIC that it will provide $100 mn for $300 mn South Asia Energy Fund of Global Environment Fund (GEF). The Global Environment Fund (GEF) is a private equity fund, that invests in businesses dedicated to clean technology, emerging markets, and sustainable forestry, with approximately $1 billion in aggregate capital under management.
Also discussed during the president’s visit was the establishing of a Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center, that will mobilise up to $100 million in public and private sector funding over five years for R&D on potential breakthrough technologies.
According to reports, a clean energy research and development centre a joint venture between the ministry of science and technology and the US department of energy will be launched soon, said Indo-US science and technology forum executive director Arabinda Mitra.
Mitra said the priority areas of the centre would be solar energy, second generation biofuels and energy-efficient buildings. The two governments would each provide an equivalent of $5 million a year for 5 years. The private players, who would submit the project proposals, will also have to contribute to the fund.
“The centre will involve active participation of academic and private sectors of both countries. The research output will be submitted to the government and efforts taken to put it into use in both the countries,” said Mitra.
Panchabuta, does believe that for long term success of the ambitious solar mission and the overall national targets for renewable energy and clean technology, two keys areas that are not focused as much as it needs to be includes the area of research and development and that of human resources development. Credit must be given though to the ministry for taking some initiatives in this regard, including award of Renewable Energy Fellowships for post graduate, M.Tech, doctoral degree and at the post doctoral levels; institution of Renewable Energy Chair at academic institutions, incorporating renewable energy in the main course curriculum of various engineering branches and mechanic trades; support to educational institutions for undertaking degree/diploma programmes in renewable energy; training programmes on different aspects of technology to renewable energy professionals working in State Nodal Agencies/Government/ Utilities, research & development institutions, NGOs, community based organizations, banking and financial institutions etc; organization of training-cum-study tours; and also developing of training modules for various category of professionals.